WRITING FICTION (WR013)

Learn to write fiction: whether short stories, a novel or anything else.

A major aspect of the journey to becoming a competent fiction writer involves developing an understanding of processes.  This course sets you on that path, but also involves you undertaking practical tasks of writing pieces of your own fiction; and analyzing the writing of other authors.

All of this learning experience is monitored by accomplished, published professional writers who through a series of 10 submitted assignments will monitor your progress, treating you as the individual you are, correcting you where necessary and ensuring you are moving forward each step you take.

How do You Become a Successful Fiction Writer or Novelist?

This course may be a great starting point.

 

COURSE STRUCTURE

The content of each of the ten lessons is as outlined below:

1. The Publishing World

Nature & scope of publishing, types of publishers, how books are published, market research

2. Publishing Procedures & Techniques

Colour or black & white; film or digital imaging, types of printing, alternative ways of doing layout (eg. typesetting, paste up, electronic layout with Adobe products or MS publisher), comparing types of digital graphic files, printing costs, etc.

3. Desktop Publishing

Word Processing, Alternative publishing methods: Printing on a Computer Printer;

Supplying a "Master" to a commercial printer, or publishing electronically (eg. Internet or CD)

4. Desktop Publishing

Software options, use of colour, black and white, use of graphics, putting it together, etc.

5. Illustration: Graphics

Line illustrations, cartoons, photos etc. Freehand work, Computer graphics, etc.

6. Illustration: Photography

Photographic Equipment & Materials; Composition; Development of Photographic Style Portraiture, Posing for Photographs, Planning a Photo Session, Studio Photography, Fault Finding, etc.

7. Researching

Types of Research (Exploratory, Experimental etc), Primary & Secondary Data sources, Planning a survey, Conducting an interview.

8. Marketing in Publishing

Understanding marketing & publicity -what makes a publication succeed or fail, launches, press releases, etc.

9. Publishing: Ethics & The Law

Public attitudes, accuracy of writing, bias, monopolies, media ownership concerns, etc.

10. Publishing Project

Here you actually publish something.

 

Duration: 100 hours



THE ELEMENTS OF FICTION WRITING

Fiction is writing that includes imaginary characters, events and/or settings created by the writer. All of the components of a fictitious story do not necessarily need to be fictitious though:

Imaginary characters might be set in a real world setting such as a well known city or a particular country.
Characters might be fictitious, but set in a "real" event. For example, you might write about the experiences of a fictitious character during World War II.
Real characters may be used for a fictitious story that embraces an imaginary event or setting (eg. a story about William Shakespeare travelling through time; or something more realistic, like a summer's holiday at a fictitious beach resort, taken by a famous historical figure such as Mozart).

There are Two Types of Fiction

There are traditionally two types of fiction:

a) CATEGORY

Also referred to as 'genre', these stories have a distinct theme and as such are easy to categorise. Examples of category or genre fiction are science fiction, westerns, adventure, crime, historical, romance, horror, erotica, mystery, suspense, fantasy and war stories.

When selecting a genre or category of fiction to focus on, it is best to choose one that suits your interests, knowledge and experience. Otherwise, be prepared to do a lot of research so you can credibly write about your chosen subjects. For example, if you have an enthusiastic interest in medieval English times and you have read extensively about feudal society, the king's court, knights, the crusades, peasants etc, you would be in a strong position to write a historical novel set in that period. But you probably should avoid starting with an adolescent girls' novels about a pony club if you dislike children and know nothing about horses.

b) MAINSTREAM

These stories are aimed at the widest possible audience. They typically deal with most aspects of modern life including relationships, careers, and the search for success and fullfilment. Popular mainstream writers include Jeffrey Archer, Jackie Collins, Colleen McCullough and James Michener.


Characteristics of Category Fiction

There are five characteristics which are usually common to category fiction stories:

1. A strong plot

2. A hero or heroine

3. Obvious motivation

4. Plenty of action

5. A colourful background or setting

Characteristics of Mainstream Fiction

A typical popular modern novel has the following characteristics:

1. A strong plot with a traditional beginning, middle and end. It has believable motivation and conflict.

2. Plenty of action, and some intrigue.

3. A hero or heroine with whom the reader can identify.

4. Romantic interest.

5. A happy ending.

GETTING AN IDEA

There are many different ways a fiction writer might develop an idea for a story. Some writers stumble across more ideas than they can use. Others need to work at getting an idea. Here are some methods you might use to get started:


Using a Fragment

Often the best story ideas will be triggered by a fragment of a thought or a single image in your mind that you can then develop into something more substantial. For example, you may have a flashback to a dream you had the night before while you are eating your cornflakes and it could become a building block of a larger narrative. Or you may see a discarded shoe while you are out jogging and your internal speculations about how it came to be there could lead to a great short story. If you ever have a moment in your day where you pause and think, "that was interesting", ponder whatever it was that caught your attention as these moments can often lead to wonderfully creative ideas.


Get philosophical

Do you ever catch yourself going on a rant about a pet subject? Maybe you have a bee in your bonnet about cosmetic surgery or sleazy politicians or 'young people today'... Whatever it is that gets your blood boiling or your juices flowing is likely to be a good source of story ideas. Next time you hear yourself getting passionate about any particular subject, listen to the themes coming out in your monologues. Think about how you could express some of your ideas as the philosophical foundation for a work of fiction. If you choose to use this technique, be very careful about simply "sermonising" in your work, however. People do not want to be told what to think. Your ideas should inform your work, not take it over. For example, if you think people are racing in to needlessly mutilate their bodies with cosmetic surgery, you could write a science fiction piece set in a town populated with stretched plastic people. Don't simply create a character who spends half the story rabbiting on about how bad cosmetic surgery is. That would just be boring. The point of this approach is to illustrate your ideas with an interesting story rather than merely espousing your ideas through your story.


Writing out titles for stories

Keep a note pad with you at all times, and write down titles whenever you think of them, eg. Dirty Dawn, The Phantom Child, Cold Steel, Flowers from Ashes, The Green Moon. Titles like this will conjure up images which can be thought over and developed. If one of the titles you write down seems to conjure up stronger images, you might try rearranging/reworking that title to suit the images better.


Developing a story from an opening sentence

The first sentence of a story is frequently the most important. It grabs the readers attention (if it is good), and sets the mood for the story to follow. Write down a number of different opening sentences with the aim of, above all, capturing the reader's attention. The sentence which conjures the strongest images in your mind is probably the best of a batch to work with.

 

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM DOING THIS COURSE?

This course is a great start for the aspiring writer who would like to be a professional writer.

This course will enhance your confidence through tutor support and encouragement.

Workshop your work with your tutor.

Gain insights into your work and get informative responses and critiques.

Build your confidence before submitting your work elsewhere.

Build your knowledge of genres, writing modes and styles.

Next steps:

Want something more in depth? Learn about our certificates and higher qualifications in writing and journalism here.